Here is where I am right now.
I'm sitting in the local coffee shop using the wireless internet. My parent's dialup connection is just too much to bear. (We'll be addressing their need to enter this century later in the day.) Magpie is run by a Christian group that brings city kids with drug and alcohol problems to the middle of midwestern nowhere and rehabilitates them. They work here to earn money. The coffee is pretty good, actually...I can actually get a respectable iced americano here, which you would not expect in rural Iowa.
Decorah is a little gem of a town. It's about 8000 people, and has a liberal arts college and picturesque scenery. Iowa is not known for picturesque scenery, but Decorah is nestled in the limestone bluff region in the Northeast corner of the state so it's got lots of hills and trees and craggy rocks.
I hated growing up here. There is an "elite" in the town, consisting primarily of families that have lived here for generations and own all the land, plus the doctors/lawyers and other important white collar workers who support the surrounding farm community and populate the country clubs. My parents did not belong to that group...my father was a civil engineer for the county and my mother was a secretary in the Registrar's office at the college, plus they aren't the sort to play social climbing games. Add to that the part about me being a high-spirited oddball with a better than average intellect and a propensity for overt self-expression, and you've got a mickey for sheer hell on teenage earth. My friends from smaller towns tell me that I didn't have it that bad...there were other kids in the same boat so I didn't have to be a loner, plus I could always hang out at the college to get exposure to art/music, etc. I don't buy it. Decorah is a small pond with aspirations, which makes it much more cut-throat.
Now that the sting of ostracization has faded, I actually enjoy spending time here. It's the slowest pace my life ever takes, as my retired parents have one speed and it just isn't all that fast. We sleep in, drink coffee, run errands, go for drives, play scrabble, talk about whatever, watch movies, eat out...it's a great way to relax and I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with my folks.
I think my dad has gotten a little insufferable when he talks about me. He is definitely proud of my life, and I think he may brag a bit when he's given the chance. I know it's hard for them to have me living 4000 miles away, so I'm glad that at least he thinks I'm doing good things as a result.
Thus far, I've enjoyed the annual Nordic Fest, had a barbeque with my folks, family and their friends, met my friend Mike at the local Mexican restaurant, and beaten my mom, my nephews, and my brother at scrabble. (Best play: Rumakis...used all my letters with a triple letter score on the K.) On tap for today: Pirates of the Caribbean for $4, dinner at the Hotel, and more scrabble. And maybe a walk when it cools down. And lunch at McDonald's, I'm betting. (My mom knows how to order "healthy" there, and they love the ice cream cones on a hot day.)